Former electronic darlings turn focus on pop success
In the Grace of Your Love 3/5 In the initial euphoric flush of the new millennium, there was no escaping The Rapture, whichever late-night watering-hole you frequented. Yelpy, sinuous singles ‘House of Jealous Lovers’ and ‘Sister Saviour’ were ubiquitous in 2003, their twitchy delirium the very definition of punk-funk – an on-trend expression of both anxiety about, and hope for, the future. Fast forward through a second LP (2006’s party-primed Pieces of the People We Love) and the departure of bassist/vocalist Mattie Safer, and here The Rapture are again, ready to… well, ready to what?
Twelve months is an ice age in electronic music, which means the NYC trio must have been living on a snowball Earth over the past five years. Their struggle for contemporaneity is audible, the spread of their stylistic net – from Beck-ish indie hip hop (‘Miss You’) to Yeasayer-esque highlife house (‘Come Back to Me’) – suggesting lack of focus, rather than receptivity. Even slightly eccentric details like a treated squeezebox or Slash-y guitar solo can’t quell doubts about their confused purpose, or the wisdom of choosing producer Phillipe Zdar (half of Gallic house stalwarts Cassius) to help drive The Rapture forwards.
While the retro soul/doo wop of ‘It Takes Time to Be a Man’ is a sweetly surprising departure, ‘How Deep is Your Love’ seizes on our tired friend piano house, and ‘Children’ is a bland, MOR misfire. More successful are ‘Blue Bird’, where Bowie-ish drama is cut with ramalama soul, the leanly insistent title track and the très Chic ‘Never Gonna Die Again’. If the band’s eye is now firmly fixed on pop success, then their third album is suitably enthusiastic. Just disappointingly low on innovation and, yes, rapture.